06/19/2005 11:00PM

City okays Fair Grounds plan

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Fair Grounds Race Course and its owner, Churchill Downs Inc., cleared another hurdle in their effort to bring slot machines to the track when the New Orleans City Council last week unanimously approved a Churchill Downs plan to build a 33,000-square-foot slots parlor on track property.

Bowing to concerns from residents in surrounding neighborhoods, the City Council ruled that the slots parlor must shut down at midnight.

To go forward with the slots plan, Churchill still must be fully approved for licensing by the Louisiana State Police. That process is well under way and expected to conclude this summer, and a slots parlor could be up and running next year.

Fair Grounds plans to have 700 slot machines when an approved parlor opens.